After four long years, Mark Jankowski is finally at a Flames training camp

On June 22, 2012, the Calgary Flames drafted Mark Jankowski out of a Quebec prep school at 21st overall in the NHL Draft. On Sept. 30, 2016, roughly 1,560 days later, Jankowski played his first game in the Scotiabank Saddledome. Granted, it was a preseason game, but it was something that many fans and observers thought would never, ever happen.

But Jankowski is finally a professional hockey player and is finally at a Flames training camp, competing for a job. When we chatted with him during the first weekend of main camp, he reflected on the decision to spend full four seasons in college, rather than sign a pro deal earlier.

“I think for me my mindset was what’s best for me in the long-term, so I think me developing and spending those four years at Providence was really good for me,” said Jankowski. “Yeah, I could’ve probably left early but maybe I would have rushed things a little bit and didn’t get the full development that you can get in college. So I feel like from all points, on the ice, off the ice, the four years of college were really beneficial in my development.”

When we chatted with Flames development coach Ray Edwards earlier this summer, he mentioned Jankowski having the opportunity to “grow into his body” during his years in college. Another way that Jankowski was helped by four years in the NCAA was in his game; Johnny Gaudreau was an elite offensive talent from basically day one, while Jankowski had to figure out the nuances of his game over a longer period. It really wasn’t until his senior year that his 200-foot play meshed with offensive production.

“I think that’s a big reason why I decided to stay and do my fourth year at college and everything, and it was obviously a really good decision,” said Jankowski. “I wouldn’t think twice about it. Everyone develops at different rates… I developed a 200-foot game when I was at college. Coming out of prep school, I really didn’t know much defense and Nate Leaman really helped me in that aspect, become a really good 200-foot center and make a difference at both ends of the ice.”

Jankowski finished off his college career on March 25 as Providence College lost in the national playoffs. Five days later he signed his entry-level contract and set off for Stockton, California. He made his pro debut with the Heat on April 1, fitting for a player many felt would never find his way into pro hockey (given his protracted path from prep school).

“That was a huge thing for me when my season ended, I wanted to go get some pro games under my belt,” said Jankowski, who had six points in eight AHL games. “Going to Stockton, it was a really big learning experience for me. Just trying to take everything in as much as I could during the two weeks I was there, how pros act on and off the ice, and just the differences of the game, the style of game, everybody’s bigger, faster, stronger… So that was really good for me coming into this camp.”

His Stockton experience has left Jankowski with confidence that he can make the transition to full-time pro successfully. But he’s also aware that it’s his first training camp, and he’s focused on making a good first impression on Flames management and letting the chips fall where they may.

“I think for me, I just need to take it day by day and put my best foot forward every day,” said Jankowski. “If at the end of the camp I’m one of the best 23 players here, they’ll find a spot, and I think that’s my goal. I want to be here, and I want to be opening night in Edmonton there. So that’s a huge goal for me.”

  • ChinookArchYYC

    He hasn’t done enough to earn a spot, by my eye. I see him in Stockton for this season going forward. He has some nice tools and good size, but Jankowski hasn’t been a standout in any of the exhibition games so far.

    • Brent G.

      I’m pleasantly surprised myself. I’m pretty sure he is going to make it in some capacity tho. Likely not this season but hopefully next. They need to find a home for Stajan anyways.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      While all you Fans have been enamoured with Tkachuk and guys like Klymchuk, I have been saying it will be Jankowski who sticks with the big club. Looks like that will happen .
      I know you guys will freak out but you keep saying the NHL is about speed and talent , but before Tkachuk plays he needs to improve his skating. This is not the OHL.

      • Stan

        You clearly havnt watched any preseason games. Tkachuks skating has been fine and Janko was not great last game. Two bad penalties and lost his man resulting in a goal.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          Contrary to what you say, many reporters and people on this site have been saying the exact opposite about Tkachuk and what is the rush. Let him hone his skating skills back in the ” O”
          Jankowski is way better prepared at this point in his life for the NHL.

        • FireScorpion

          You can’t blame Train for not being up to speed on the Flames. He’s been busy watching the Oilers getting pumped the last while. Watching his boy Lucic looking lost as a chicken in a hailstorm (since we’re talking about players that are slow and can’t skate and all).
          And yeah literally no one has been enamored with Kilmchuk.
          Janko was always a project and still is but he will make the NHL.

        • King Quong

          I watched the full game I’d hardly call his penalties bad penalties unless you’re commenting that they’re bad penalties the ref shouldn’t have called, especially the holding penalty neither of his arms went around the player.

          • Baalzamon

            Yeah. Or maybe he’s better than you think. He’s certainly been better than I expected.

            Right now, Jankowski is behind Shinkaruk, Tkachuk, and Poirier (not necessarily in that order). If only one rookie makes the team full time, it’ll be Shinkaruk. Guaranteed. Not Jankowski.

      • Kevin R

        ???? who has been clamouring about Klimchuk????
        Tkachuk has been looking fine on that line with Bennett & Brouwer thank you very much. Not saying he sticks, but good chances he will. Get some chemistry with Bennett & we have our #2 duo to compliment Gaudreau & Monahan. That’s what you invest a 6th overall pick in.

        Janko is not a top 2 line centre. He is totally going to be groomed to be Treliving’s safety net when negotiations start this time next year for Backlund’s new contract. Backlund could be a pretty valuable trade chip if Janko forces his way on the team over the next year in Stockton (with obvious probable injury call ups).

      • The Sultan

        What would an Oilers fan know about letting prospects develop and not rushing them into the league? Or is it just that Edmonton is and has been so bad over the last 10 years that every 18 year old they draft is good enough to make the club?

        Tkachuk has more points in the NHL this year than Puljajarvi. Just like Bennett will have more than Draisaitl. If Mark Jankowski was an Oiler he’d be fighting RNH for that number 2 spot.

  • freethe flames

    Based upon the preseason who has earned a job? What opportunities have players been given? Tkachuk has been allowed to play with Bennett and Brouwer and plenty of PP time. What and who have the other top prospects played with? GG and his coaching staff are at practice everyday and we need to trust their judgement. However I would like to see some of the offensive prospects be given similar chances.

    • cberg

      You have to shine and make your case where you are, whether its with specific players, in the AHL, or as a call-up for a game or two. This idea that certain players didn’t get a chance because they didn’t play with Bennett is ludicrous. How about the guys that played with Backlund? with Mangiapanne? with Dube?…..etc, etc, etc.

      Back to your original question, the ONLY guy that has stood out effectively throughout camp is Tkachuk. Others have had their moments, like Kulak, like FHamilton, like Wotherspoon, like Jankowski, like Parsons, like Gillies but it hasn’t been as consistent.

  • supra steve

    Be it this year 2017 or 2018, it does look like Janko is likely to become a legit NHL player. At what level I’m sure I don’t know, but it is quite gratifying to see it happening after listening to four years of naysaying from a vocal but short-sighted minority of the fan base.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      1. I didn’t think he would ever become an NHLer, I’m glad I was wrong and happy for Jankowski.
      2. It was a stupid pick regardless of the result and that’s on the Feaster and not the player.

      • supra steve

        “2. It was a stupid pick regardless of the result”

        The hockey news had Janko rated 37th on their pre draft list, Flames took him at 21st overall in 2012. And yes, I know that is not the only list out there and you may or may not value their list as much as another list.

        In 2013 the Hockey news had Poirier at #47 and Klimchuk at #38, Flames took those players at #22 and 28. Were those picks also “stupid”? Are they any closer to the NHL than Janko?

        Recent draft years are littered with picks exactly like this by clubs that selected players way before the published draft rankings would have indicated. At the top of the draft most clubs stay pretty close to the script, but later in the first and beyond, everyone has their own list to follow.

        End of the day, if your pick turns out, and you get a legit NHLer, it was a good pick. Saying otherwise is puzzling.

        • ClayBort

          This also isn’t really true. You can’t laud management if they make a decision that’s wrong 19 times out of 20 when there was a much higher probability bet out there. It masks the fact that their process was flawed and led to many more mistakes.

          An example of this was the Nieuwendyk trade. The Flames acquired far from a sure bet for a true, youngish 1C. They were extremely lucky that that bet turned into Iginla and folks love to declare that a win, when the returns for Gilmour and others in the tear down were disastrous. The Flames middled for a decade following that trade.

          • supra steve

            Well I guess that solves it. If you say there were players available that were “much higher probability bet(s) out there”, then I guess Janko was the wrong choice. You may want to have a look at that particular draft (and any other draft as well) to see what choices other clubs made and to judge the NHL games played of all those more wonderful options you think were out there. And look further than Olli Maatta, I have seen nothing to indicate he was necessarily the next name on Calgary’s list. The problem is these kids are only 18 years old, and you need to project their value 5, 10, 15 years into the future.

          • ClayBort

            Teravainen was there, and seen as a higher probability bet than Sieloff and Jankowski combined. Surprise, he’s playing a legitimate role for an NHL team and we’re calling Janko getting an invite to camp a win.

          • Baalzamon

            Teravainen was there at #14, but not at #21. Are you criticizing the pick, or the trade down? If it’s the pick, you can’t bring Teravainen into the discussion. Anyone who went before #21 is irrelevant to that discussion (except to point out how bad that draft was. I’d rather have Jankowski than Tom Wilson or Griffin Reinhart, for example).

          • supra steve

            A. Teravainen was gone by 21st pick.

            B. Chicago has already deemed it necessary to trade him, so how good are they expecting him to be?

            In 10 years time you may be proven correct in your evaluation of the Janko pick, or you may be proven 100% wrong, let’s discuss again in 10 years time.

          • ClayBort

            Neat we get to delay analysis by another 10 years.

            Let us put this another way. Say you decide to start saving for retirement, and say you don’t have a lot of knowledge about financial markets so you hire a Certified Financial Planner. You begin cutting your financial planner a cheque every month.

            Unbeknownst to you, your CFP doesn’t invest your money at all, but rather just buys lottery tickets for every draw. Ten years later, one of the tickets hits and you win $10M. Are you going to look people in the eye and tell them your CFP was smart? Are you going to reinvest the 10M with that person?

            What we are truly arguing over here is positive outcome bias. We look back at something that worked out and say, “That must have been a smart decision”, while ignoring all the ways that decision would have failed, as the outcome we experienced is probably in the tails of the distribution. If Janko were to become a 1C, looking back, that was still a bad decision.

            Also, you are 100% wrong that we shouldn’t consider players that went 14-20. Those are true opportunity costs of trading down to 21 and selecting Janko. You are getting opportunity cost and sunk cost mixed up. The 14th pick wasn’t sunk when they decided to trade down specifically for Janko.

          • supra steve

            In this case, the financial planner is your scouting staff. If Feaster went against their advice then you are correct. If Janko had the seal of approval of Todd Button’s staff, then you are wrong.

          • ChinookArchYYC

            Exactly right. The decisions stand on their own and lucking out doesn’t excuse the improper use of the first round pick. Add the fact that Feaster traded away the 12th to pick to a lower one, to make good on a promise to get a 2nd round pick back and the mistake is further highlighted.

  • Misterbator

    I always had faith. I think its easy to judge with the masses, with basically no access to a crystal ball.

    I watched him a bit in college and he looked like he had great tools. He was a huge part in the NCAA title providence earned 2 years ago.

    This season is going to be very exciting!!!!

  • Newbietwo

    I think the flames brass are hoping Jankow becomes our third line centre replacing Backlund once his current contract expires.. I remember trade rumours last year with Montreal on Backlund and I remember flames looking at a short term stop gap in Toronto if that was to transpire.. This year will tell them a lot in his game if he can be that third line centre two way with a bit of offensive upside.. Either way I think he will be a successful nhl player with a 30 to 35 point average a year

  • Slowmo

    I was 1 who hated the draft of Janko I am know an opponent of Janks. He will be a very good Center and will replace Staj Backs will be here to stay for yrs to come. He is what every team desires for a third line Center smart fast and pots in a few points and stops the bad guys. Chucky will get over it I bet he is here to stay when a line has the chemistry that the BBT line has you just don’t mess with it. Of course that could change perhaps Chucky falls apart but don’t hold your breath. He’s here to stay.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    No pressure at all on the kid to make the big team this year. A full year in the AHL will look great on his resume.

    Can’t knock his decision to give four years to an Ivy League school. A longer than average pro hockey career is 10 years. His degree and the contacts he made at Princeton are for life. He looks very well positioned regardless of what he does in the future.

  • ClayBort

    A little early to prove a winner in this isn’t it? He’s played a couple of exhibition games and hasn’t really generated anything against thin rosters.

    Let’s see what a year in Stockton brings.

  • Baalzamon

    Apparently Korpikoski is getting the LW spot on Backlund’s unit tonight. I cannot believe he hasn’t been cut yet, and now he gets the plum assignment? Holy Hell.

    At least try someone who has a chance of earning an NHL job, like Shinkaruk or Bouma.

  • freethe flames

    Here is tonight’s probable line up for the flames:

    Lauri Korpikoski – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik

    Lance Bouma – Matt Stajan – Linden Vey

    Matthew Tkachuk – Sam Bennett – Alex Chiasson

    Brandon Bollig – Freddie Hamilton – Emile Poirier

    DEFENCEMEN

    TJ Brodie – Dennis Wideman

    Jyrki Jokipakka – Brett Kulak

    Nicklas Grossman – Mikhail Grigoriev

    Johnson/Gilles in net.

    With this line up I would only want to see one change and this Chiasson and Poirier switch lines. I am firm believer in giving the young guys a chance to play up to their role.

  • ClayBort

    Also, where are people getting that this draft was bad?

    14. Zemgus

    15. Ceci

    16. Wilson

    17. Hertl

    18. Teuvo

    19. Vasilevskiy

    20. Laughton

    21. Janko

    22. Maatta

    There are maybe 4-5 landmines that went 14-22. A 44%-55% percent hit rate in the middle of the 1st round isn’t bad. Vasilevskiy, Hertl, Teuvo, Maatta were all right there. So were other landmines, sure, but those players all have accomplished more than Janko to date. On this list he is 9 out of 9. Given the choice of a 44% chance the Flames take one of the good players on the list, or 100% chance they take the 9th player on the list…. I know what I’d choose.

  • Just.Visiting

    For context, I’ve always been in the camp that hopes that Janko proves to have been a very astute pick.

    I saw some of the young guns tournament and a little bit of the third period while out with some friends the other night.

    My overall impressions so far have been very positive on his play without the puck, his intelligence, his hands and and his vision of the ice and passing. He has size in terms of reach, but doesn’t seem to play a physical game-perhaps an area of incremental improvement, as he’ll never realistically play a big physical game.

    The biggest area of opportunity that jumped out to me from what is admittedly a small sample size of watching him play is that I didn’t see a high sense of urgency out there. By that, I don’t mean running around chasing the puck, but seeming more passive in the play coming to him than trying to control the play.

    I defer to others who have watched him a lot more than me, though.

    I would have liked to have seen him in the Winnipeg game tonight.

  • MontanaMan

    I’m not convinced this is the year for Jankowski and believe a year with the Heat would be the best move for the player and the team. If he does make the team and has a decent career, OKG owes us all an “I told you so>”. When everyone else was hammering him, OKG defended him.